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Sublimation Printing FAQ

Whether you are an expert or a beginner we are sure that you will find helpful information.
  • How does the dye sublimation process compare to screen printing?
  • Dye-sublimation print on polyester material does not affect the hand of the material and is more desirable than screen printing for Home Furnishing & Wallpaper fabrics and the apparel industry. In the United States and Canada dye-sublimation printing is very popular for Window Treatments (curtains & drapes), chair coverings and sheets and pillow cases. The colors are very vibrant, do not wash out and the process is less messy than screen printing which requires messy solvents and dyes.

    Sublimation is also very popular with sportswear manufacturers- many printed uniforms (cyclewear, soccer, basketball and lacross) on the market today are done via sublimation. Unlike screen printing, where the ink lays on top of the garment, the sublimation process produces permanent images that will not crack or fade. Also, sublimation infuses the image into the thread of the fabric so that does not affect the breathability of the garment. Most athletes prefer sublimated jerseys versus screen printing jerseys. Screen printing leaves a layer on top of the garment which affects beathability and the comfort of the athlete.

    Dye-sublimation is also cost efficient and very popular for short-run customization of fabrics. Special logos, pictures and designs can easily be created or scanned into the computer. Transfer paper can be generated and custom prints finished in a matter of minutes as opposed to screen printing which requires lengthy time for preparation of the stencil and assembly of the mesh fabric.
  • What fabrics can be sublimated on?
  • The dye-sublimation printing process is used to print on polyester or other synthetic fabrics. It is used for applications such as T-shirts, banners, table covers, id cards, sportswear and flags. The images are initially printed on coated heat-resistant transfer paper as a reverse image of the final design, which is then transferred onto polyester fabric in a heat press.
  • What are the advantages of dye-sublimation on fabric?
  • Images are permanent and do not peel or fade. Dye does not build up on the fabric. Colors can be are extraordinarily brilliant due to the bonding of the dye to the transparent fibers of the synthetic fabric. Truly continuous tones can be achieved that are equivalent to photographs, without the use special techniques such as half-screen printing. The image can be printed all over the entire item, with no difficulty in printing all the way to the edges.
  • Is dye sublimation suitable for trade show booth backdrops?
  • Dye-sublimation is often used to produce trade show booth backdrops, banners and tabletops. Polyester coated fabric booth backdrops created using the dye-sublimation process offer a great advantages over the traditional booth backdrops which use vinyl.
    These advantages include:
  • Portability - transporting a fabric booth background is easier, lighter and can result in cost savings on shipping costs.
  • Washable - fabric backdrops can be washed or dry cleaned and tend not to wrinkle as much as vinyl backdrops
  • Higher Quality- vinyl backdrops tend to give of glare while fabric backdrops have a smooth and non-glossy look which is more suitable for pictures and tv shots.
  • What size should I prepare my image for printing?
  • When preparing an image for large format printing, a ppi (Pixels Per Inch) of 150 to 300 ppi typically leads to superior print quality. Reserve higher ppi for end products that will be viewed close up. Lower end ppi can be used for banners/flags that will be viewed from a distance.

    Ideally your original image size should equal the print size. Resizing a bitmap image in a graphics program like Photoshop results in a loss of image quality since the graphics program must add additional pixels to the image. On the other hand, vector images are resolution independent and can be resized without any loss of image quality. Unfortunately vector images are not suitable for photo-realistic images.
  • Can I print cotton material with sublimation?
  • Sublimation only prints polyester and polymer coated objects. Cotton will not accept the dye.
  • Can I sublimate on blended fabric with polyester and cotton? How much polyester is required?
  • We are often asked this question from clients in the home furnishing industry as they often require to sublimate onto furniture with fabric that is part polyester and cotton. Generally speaking, the higher the percentage of polyester in the fabric the better the sublimation results. At minimum we recommend a blend of 65% polyester - or in other words the majority of the fabric should include polyester.
  • Can I sublimate on microfiber?
  • Yes.


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